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Archives for February 12, 2017

Design Recipes: Shades of gray

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at

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KLRU Schedule | Central Texas Gardener Healing Garden Design – KLRU

Full Episode

Yes, our gardens are sanctuaries to heal, find peace, and truly get outside ourselves. Landscape Architect Brian Ott illustrates design concepts for our own little havens. At American Botanical Council, discover plants from around the world that heal, taste good, attract pollinators and handle drought! So, how can you help trees heal? Daphne explains how to rescue a trouble sycamore tree.

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Episode #2314 / Length: 26 minutes

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Indoors & out: Home and patio show, senior moving tips, pollinator symposium and more

Better your nest

Beekeeping, raising chickens in the city, and kitchen and bath trends are some of the seminar and exhibit topics at the Minnesota Home and Patio Show, Feb. 16-19 in St. Paul. Don Engebretson, the Renegade Gardener, will demonstrate how to create cool containers and will share design secrets for a beautiful garden. Radio personality Paul Koffy and his wife, Ev Jacobson, will share their beekeeping experiences. The Outdoor Living and Garden area features a mock house with front and backyard landscaping and even an outdoor movie theater. Gather ideas for the latest looks and materials in patios, outdoor kitchens, fountains and other water features. For cooks, chef Katie Chin, daughter of Leeann Chin, will prepare fast and easy Asian dishes.

The Home and Patio Show also features more than 250 exhibits highlighting new products and services for remodeling, decorating, gardening, landscaping and energy conservation. Hours are 2 to 8 p.m. Feb. 16, noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 18 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 19, RiverCentre, 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. Tickets are $9 for adults, $6 seniors, $2.50 for ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and under. Go to

Moving seminar for seniors

Downsizing or moving can be a challenge for older adults who have lived in their homes for many years. Diane Bjorkman of Gentle Transitions will offer strategies, resources and tips for making packing and moving stress-free during a free program 1:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at Covenant Village of Golden Valley, a retirement community, 5800 St. Croix Av. N. To register, go to or call 1-877-804-7017.

Help with to-do lists

Planning on repairing or remodeling your abode before spring? At the Home Improvement and Design Expo, more than 150 painters, remodelers, interior designers, contractors and landscape pros will offer their expertise and services. Bring your ideas and blueprints for free interior design consultations. Programs on “Solar 101,” color and design trends, how to increase resale value and “Flooring A to Z” are scheduled throughout the day. The expo is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 18 at Canterbury Park, 1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee. Admission is $6 or free with a nonperishable food item. For details, go to



Urban homesteading

Want to produce more of your own food? The St. Paul Public Library is hosting a series of urban homesteading programs this month. Composting and Vermiculture will be covered at a free class from 1-2 p.m. Feb. 18. Learn how to compost kitchen and yard waste to enhance your soil and decrease landfill waste. The class will be held at the Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St, St. Paul. No registration necessary.

The Frogtown 4th Annual Green Gathering will be held 2-4 p.m. Feb. 19, featuring treats, exhibits and information-sharing with gardeners, water stewards, pollinator and animal lovers and more. The gathering will be held at the Rondo Library, 461 N. Dale St., St. Paul.

Planting for pollinators

Creating diverse habitat for bees, butterflies, game birds and other wildlife will be the subject of a free Pollinator Symposium Feb. 17, presented by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. National pollinator experts will discuss the importance of pollinators and the habitat needs of honeybees, native bees and Monarch butterflies.

The symposium, which begins at 12:30 p.m. and ends with a panel discussion at 4:05 p.m., will be held in Room 211 on the second level of the Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Av. S., Mpls.


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Think Spring at Home & Garden Show

While getting glimpses of the Bergholz, Ohio, company’s hardwood flooring, doors, and rough-cut lumber, visitors can also register to win a children’s rocking chair, made entirely of oak.

Denoon is among the dozens of businesses and organizations displaying their expertise, products and services this weekend at the 47th annual show at WesBanco Arena.

The event continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and admission is free.

This show is pretty much the same as it was decades ago when it was held at Wheeling Park’s White Palace. There are experts on home repairs, home building, decorating and improvements, at booths offering roofing, log cabins, sheds, lawn equipment and furniture, landscaping ideas and crafts.

There are freebies at most of the booths: from candy to brochures, pens and mousepads, given as gifts to remember the businesses, or as a reward for visiting with their experts.

Before visitors get to the bulk of displays, however, they encounter the tempting, warm aroma of cinnamon -roasted cashews and the delightful showcase of chocolate strawberries at the Holman Candies booth near the arena entrance. There, employees of the Baden, Pa., business will enthusiastically sell a bag of nuts and a slice of fudge.

Keep walking left of the candy booth and you’ll make the rounds through the crafts section. Head to the right and down the ramp toward the arena floor, and that’s the home show part of the event.

There, two black cats named Toner and Paul are available for adoption from Belmont County Animal Shelter. Saturday morning they were being cared for by Nicki Gordon, a shelter employer who introduces herself as “the crazy cat-lady.”

It’s not easy to find homes for cats like them, she said. “Black cats have a bad rap about being bad luck. But they’re good luck if they’re yours.” The shelter charges $25 to adopt one of these sleek felines. That fee includes neutering or spaying, disease testing, and more.

Behind two, tiny pots of delicate, “First Prize” tomato seedlings sits Kim Young, an employee of Klug’s Greenhouse in Wheeling. Her sprouts represent only one of the 50 tomato varieties Klug’s will sell during warmer weather, along with peppers and other vegetables, she said.

Although the Ohio Valley is still experiencing cold days of winter, inside Klug’s warm greenhouses, employees are growing pansies, petunias and snapdragons. These cool-weather tolerant plants will be ready for sale by late April or May, Young said.

Neal Bell, owner and landscape designer from the new business Proscape by Nicky’s Garden Center boasted of his company’s hardscaping: design and construction of patios, seat- and retaining-walls, fire pits and other outdoor features made of stone and concrete. His display featured a fountain homeowners can add to attract wildlife and create calming white noise, he said.

Paul Keffer, kitchen designer for the Panhandle Custom Homes, Kitchens and Baths division of Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration, is candid about what consumers want in their kitchens these days. “Gray is the new white,” he said, noting that stone and quartz countertops continue to be popular. Throughout the home, pullouts are in demand. They’re like drawers, but are designed for storing specific items, such as spices in the pantry; or shoes and neckties within tailored bedroom closets.

Ask Mike Baltz what a cracked or bowed wall means, and you’ll never again look at any wall in the same way. “It indicates your foundation is moving,” and could cause a collapse, he said. Sometimes, insurance won’t pay after that happens, he added to indicate the urgency of such a situation. Baltz’s company, JES Basement Systems in Cumberland, Ohio, uses methods such as wall anchors to hold walls in place, he said.

To round off the consumer’s experience, The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office booth, manned Saturday by a Retired Senior Volunteer Program member, offers instructions on filing consumer complaints against businesses, as well as a brochure detailing renters rights, and more.

Just across the aisle at the Better Business Bureau’s booth, Kimberly Thompson, director of external communications for the Canton Region and Greater West Virginia, is available to discuss how to maintain an ethical marketplace. “We’re here to help keep consumers aware of fraud and scams,” she said.

DeNoon Lumber and WTOV-9 are sponsors of this annual event.

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Sunny skies, fun outside at Home and Garden Show

DIXON — An opportunity to enjoy some sun drew a crowd of thousands to the Solano County Home and Garden Show on Saturday.

Need an idea for decorating your yard? They got that. Want to change up your kitchen or bathroom? They have vendors who can help.

Amanda Dunham and Tim Perkins of Vacaville came out to look for ideas for three projects.

“The bathroom, kitchen and backyard,” he listed.

But before they could do anything Dunham wanted to watch the dogs jump into the pool, attempting to catch various toys for the Splash Dogs venue.

Splash Dogs is a dog competition that began in 2003 and has gained a following over the years.

The competition drew a large crowd of people and dogs. The dogs seemed happy to add their voices of encouragement to the competitors.

“Everybody brought their dogs out today,” said Dunham.

In its third year, the Solano County Home and Garden Show is one of the first of the season, opening up people’s minds for spring and summer improvement projects.

“I’m excited to see some landscaping ideas,” Dunham said.

It took Alfonso Ayala, owner of Ayala Western Panoramic of Vacaville, seven hours Friday to set up a large outdoor display with a 6-foot waterfall and large boulders to give people like Dunham an idea for their yards. This is also his third year at the show, helping people with new ideas for landscaping.

“If we can do all this in a few hours, think what we could do for your yard,” he said.

Home and garden shows are important avenues for many vendors to get the word out about their businesses.

“It’s about word of mouth,” said Pacific Mortgage consultant Harry Ahlstrom. “I do 30 shows a year and this is my advertising.”

“This year is bigger than last year with a steady stream of people,” he said.

The show has 250 vendors this year including live bands, food, beer and wine, along with Canine Carnival and Solano County Animal Care Services will be on hand with some furry friends looking for a forever home.

The fun continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, contact Nicole Arabia at 916-542-8010.

Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or

Sunday entertainment

  • Splash Dogs
  • USAF Band of the Golden West, 2 to 4:30 p.m.

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Good gardeners now planning for spring

Good gardeners are never done gardening. We dream about where to plant what. We constantly flip through magazines and browse the Internet for ideas. We dig out plants, move them, toss them and replant them. We get rid of gardens, resurrect old gardens and make new gardens. We’re never done.

Here is my list of 10 tips to keep gardeners and budding landscape designers on the right track.

  1. Make a thumbnail sketch of your yard and plot on paper everything that is permanently fixed and non-negotiable. That probably includes the house, shed, driveway, gates, utility poles, and property lines. Make a dozen or so photocopies of the paper and begin doodling with possible garden shapes, veggie garden location, trees, or even pool locations and patio areas. Set your renderings aside and do another option the next day. Or ask a friend to do a doodle for you.
  2. Play with garden shapes before you consider choosing plants. In the many years I have been involved with landscape design, I have found that where I plant is as important than what I plant.
  3. Once the garden bed shapes are figured out on paper, use a flexible garden hose to outline the beds in the garden. Walk back to the house, street, patio or dining room to see what the garden shape looks like from a distance and adjust accordingly.
  4. Make the garden beds big enough. You will be tempted to make the garden small, but when viewed from the street or house, you will want to make the garden larger.
  5. Use broad sweeping curves rather than curves that wiggle too much. Bug curves are more comforting on the eyes. Sharp curves are a nuisance for the lawn mower.
  6. Build up the beds. After removing the sod, you will want to add a minimum of four to six inches of topsoil. Your plants will perform better and look better when soil level is raised.
  7. When it is time to look for plants, check the plant label to determine growth rate and ultimate size. Too often I have seen a big shrub drowned out by an adjacent dwarf conifer.
  8. Choosing a colour theme is important, but don’t forget to consider plant texture and leaf size and colour. Other considerations include sun/shade, plant hardiness and soil type.
  9. Pick your focal points before choosing the fillers. Magnolia, Tricolour Beech, Japanese Maple, and Weeping Spruce are among the many focal points you will want to choose as accents. Once the accents are chosen it will be easy to find plants that act as obedient fillers. Do not incororate too many accent plants.
  10. Set your new plants on the ground in their spots before planting. Stand back and adjust plant placement before digging holes. Turn the plants so their nicest side is facing the front.


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Hatton: Life experiences leave marks on garden’s growth

I recently wondered about the influence of external factors over the years on my current interest in and style of gardening. There are too many to mention, but here are some key highlights.

My first actual gardening experience was when I was about 4 or 5 years old, but my first memory about a garden was sometime before that.

I was playing at a friend’s house and we pulled carrots from their garden and tasted them, soil and all.

When I was 6, we moved to Oklahoma, where we had a small veggie garden.

My memory from there is that of eating fresh asparagus in the garden. I have loved asparagus since.Two years later, we moved back to Amarillo, where my parents created a large veggie garden. They only had it a few years, and my primary memory was them making me eat swiss chard, which was very gritty and I didn’t like it.

The balance of my gardening activities until I was out of college consisted of lawn maintenance.

My parents lived in that house until their deaths, so this is where I had my greatest exposure to ornamental gardening.

My gardens at every place we have lived have had areas mimicking certain areas, features or plants that were at the “home place” over the years.

I did minor ornamental gardening to beautify our properties while in the Army and after, when living in Dallas.

In St. Louis, our interest in the Missouri Botanical Garden resulted in our visiting it almost weekly throughout the year.

These nearly eight years inspired the beginning of serious learning and gardening.

Living in an older neighborhood in a house built in the 1930s, the area inspired cottage style, which has stuck.

The good soil and weather made gardening easy as I learned.

It was in St. Louis that I had my own first veggie gardens.

From a gardening standpoint, the move to New Jersey was easy. Similar weather, soil and plant material.

I had a wonderful area for a veggie garden at our first house, and I continued learning while landscaping a largely unlandscaped property.

The Garden State, New York and Pennsylvania offered unlimited public gardens, parks and school and office campuses, as well as other areas of beauty from which I got inspiration and ideas.

A change in my corporate life resulted in our remaining in New Jersey for 20 years, but gardening was derailed at our second house there. The reason was deer.

This house was in a forest. The deer ate almost everything. I stopped significant gardening for about 15 years until we retired and moved back to Amarillo.

I continued to read, however, and think about gardening as we visited many gardens over the years.

Subconsciously, I suspect that I was filing thoughts for gardening in retirement.

The primary influence here is the environment. Thus, my style and interests must be translated to accommodate local conditions.

Add accommodations for aging, and my journey continues to evolve.

Gardens are never finished.

Bob Hatton is a community volunteer. Contact him at

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Arkansas Flower and Garden Show set for Feb. 24

LITTLE ROCK — A touch of good-natured sibling rivalry will be at the heart of the 2017 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show’s kick-off event, but what will really be on display is the fast-moving work of two of Central Arkansas’s best-known gardeners and landscapers.

Brothers Chris and Buddy Olsen will face off during the landscape challenge, beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24, just as the doors open to the public at the Statehouse Convention Center for the state’s largest flower and garden show. The two will have four hours to assemble their best gardening efforts against similar home front facades.

Krista Quinn, executive director for the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, said photographers will be creating a time-lapse video of the event, so that attendees will be able to watch the process throughout the run of the show, which concludes Sunday, Feb. 26.

“It should be really fun and inspiring to see how their plans come together and to see two different ways to landscape the same house,” Quinn said. “We’ll also be interviewing the owners and landscape designers from each of the companies during the construction process to discuss home landscaping.

“They’ll provide information about great plants for Arkansas landscapes, some tips for designing front foundation plantings, and plenty of info about landscape construction techniques,” she said. “We’ll take questions from the audience, as well, so this is a great opportunity to get advice from the experts.”

Chris Olsen, owner of both Botanica Gardens and Plantopia in Little Rock, said he plans to bring a landscaping approach to the competition that will make onlookers second-guess their assumptions about typical yard work and gardening.

“I don’t know what Buddy is doing, but what I always try to do is something that is totally out of the box,” he said. “Something that’s tasteful, but has a funky twist to it.

“That’s what the clients usually hire Botanica for — we just don’t do what everyone else does. One thing I often do is to use a lot of different plants — my goal is to introduce 10-15 new varieties of different plants into my design each year, so that I always stay ahead of my competitors,” Chris said.

Buddy Olsen, owner of Horticare Companies in Little Rock, said he plans to create a landscape masterpiece that was both eye-catching and accessible to the average gardener.

“Our goal is to make something during this challenge that you’d actually want to put in your own home,” he said. “We’re going to use some color, but we’re trying to get in some plants that most people would actually use in their yard — something they can take home with them and incorporate in their own design.

“We want to give people one or two ideas that will really help,” Buddy said. “Honestly, the yard used for the challenge is very small, and it’s hard to get too much in it.”

Buddy said that many gardeners often “over plant” their yards, failing to take into account the eventual growth and expansion of new plants.

“If you know a plant is going to be three feet wide and five feet tall, there’s no sense in putting another one two feet away from it,” he said. “Everything’s going to grow larger. And generally, your initial irrigation system won’t handle the plants once they take off and start growing.”

Buddy said the approaching competition has been a source of good-natured ribbing within the family for a few weeks.

“It’s been a topic of discussion at our family dinners here lately,” he said.

Single-day tickets to the 2017 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show are $10. Three-day passes are $15. Children 12 and younger get in free. To purchase tickets, see a full schedule of events and more, visit

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Field Notes | Gardeners swap seeds – and planting tips – at the local library – Virginian

Shannon Conroy describes herself as a “hoarder” of garden seeds. After she and another gardening friend met to swap their leftovers one spring, Conroy realized that as manager of Carrollton Branch Library, she had a chance to facilitate seed-sharing among the wider community.

“Why not?” Conroy said. She pointed out that bigger libraries have offered seed swaps for years. Maybe Carrollton could, too.

So she gathered some of her stash and started experimenting with logistics and space.

Three years old now, this library-within-a-library consists of a milk crate full of hanging files where seeds, each variety sealed in a separate envelope, are stored alphabetically. Naturally, the crate sits on a shelf among the library’s collection of gardening and landscaping books.

Conroy likes keeping things simple. She files the seeds by general type that the average patron will readily recognize. For example, the many edible and decorative varieties of plants whose scientific names begin with “Zea mays” are not stored here under “Z.” Instead, you’ll find them under “C” for “corn.”

Using this library doesn’t require a wait in line or even a card. Simple signage just invites library visitors to go ahead and join in.

“It’s like ‘Give a Penny, Take a Penny,’” Conroy said. “I let it run itself.”

While one-day seed swap events are becoming more common, Carrollton’s may be the only permanently established, ongoing seed swap library in the eastern half of Virginia. But Carrollton is also a small venue, and the seed collection is somewhat of a local secret.

And in that, Western Tidewater Master Gardeners president Lisa Meunier saw opportunity for an expanded partnership.

“We have a pretty big presence at the library,” Meunier said. Carrollton Branch has long served as a central meeting place for the Master Gardeners’ public education events. She said helping to promote Carrollton’s seed library is a practical and logical way for the gardeners “to support the branch” in return.

Evidence of their continuing partnership – and their shared mission of public education – has bloomed at the Carrollton Branch Library. Indoors, flyers for Master Gardener-led programs and Virginia Cooperative Extension tip sheets are displayed alongside growing-related books. Outside is the Learning Garden, the first phase of which was established several years ago under the direction of Bill and Linda Pinkham, Master Gardeners and former owners of Smithfield Gardens.

“When it started, it was just the land behind the library,” Conroy said. Gradually that southern garden bed “snuck up” to encompass the western and northern sides of the building as well.

Today’s Learning Garden sports a blend of both ornamentals and herbs; both native and cultivar types; annuals, small perennials and trees. Its diversity provides learning opportunities year-round, Meunier said.

“Life is a continuum,” Meunier said. “If you’re looking at it in summer, it started in winter.”

And so the group’s Learning Garden-based “Bring Gardening Home” series runs throughout the year. Past and upcoming topics include planting bulbs in the late fall, lawn care in spring or harvesting seeds after summer’s bounty to save for next year.

The next series event, “Prime Time to Prune,” will be held at the library Feb. 18. The two-hour workshop will include background theory and before/after photos followed by demonstration and hands-on practice using living plants in the Learning Garden.

Call Carrollton Branch Library at 238-2641 for information about the Seed Swap Library or to sign up for the upcoming workshops.

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Master gardener offers winter weather tips to save your plants

Master gardener Brian Minter says rescuing plants from winter weather is all about timing and planning.

Trying to save small trees and garden plants that have been pummeled by ice and snow is a challenge for many British Columbians at this time of year.

People want to get out and get the ice off right away, but you’ll do more damage scraping it off then leaving it on, Minter told CBC’s B.C. Almanac host Gloria Macarenko.

Minter’s advice?


And when the ice begins to melt, that’s the time to spring into action.

“Try as quickly as you can to straighten branches because trees will stay in that shape,” he says.

Minter also recommends using stakes to help plants recover and to prevent stem breakage.

According to Minter, some plants, such as rhododendrons, suffer from windburn but can look worse off than they truly are.

Minter suggests cutting damaged rhododendron leaves off to improve appearance, but notes that new growth will come in “just fine”.

Saturday snow day descends on South Coast - 1

Rhododendrons can suffer from wind burn during cold winters, but expert gardener, Brian Minter, says while the damage is unattractive, it is not always permanent. (Duncan McCue/CBC)

Prune properly

Other small trees might require more extensive pruning after weather damage.

“Where branches are gone, clean them up and cut them back,” says Minter.

Don’t be tempted to take too much off though.

For example, when pruning cedar hedges, Minter advises to stay within the green wood.

“If you prune too deep into the old brown, growth won’t come back,” he warns.

Proper pruning before a cold snap can also help protect small trees in bad weather.

“Get that good structure where limbs are put in a place where only small outside branches will break,” explains Minter, who says that careful pruning can extend the life of trees by preventing damage and improving airflow.

snow tree down

Gardening guru, Brian Minter, says trees that have fallen over in winter weather should be re-planted as soon as possible to encourage them to re-root. (Scott Stevenson/CBC)

Don’t despair

And all is not lost if a small tree has succumbed to stormy weather and fallen over.

Minter recommends getting toppled trees back in the ground as soon as possible and pruning them back to remove excess top weight. Supporting the trunk with three stakes can give the tree the help it needs until the roots take hold.

Winter weather can be hard on plants, but with some advance pruning and a little patience, they will spring back in spring.

With files from B.C. Almanac

To hear the complete audio, click on the file labelled Winter gardening tips with Brian Minter.

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